There is a lot of confusion surrounding the rules for when and how college coaches and student athletes can interact, and to be successful in your recruiting process, you must understand these rules.
First, a few quick definitions:
What is a contact?A contact occurs any time a college coach says more than hello during a face-to-face contact with a college-bound student-athlete or his or her parents off the college's campus.
What is a contact period?During a contact period a college coach may have face-to-face contact with college-bound student-athletes or their parents, watch student-athletes compete and visit their high schools, and write or telephone student-athletes or their parents.
What is an evaluation period?During an evaluation period a college coach may watch college-bound student-athletes compete, visit their high schools, and write or telephone student-athletes or their parents. However, a college coach may not have face-to-face contact with college-bound student-athletes or their parents off the college's campus during an evaluation period.
What is a quiet period?During a quiet period, a college coach may only have face-to-face contact with college-bound student-athletes or their parents on the college's campus. A coach may not watch student-athletes compete (unless a competition occurs on the college's campus) or visit their high schools. Coaches may write or telephone college-bound student-athletes or their parents during this time.
What is a dead period?During a dead period a college coach may not have face-to-face contact with college-bound student-athletes or their parents, and may not watch student-athletes compete or visit their high schools. Coaches may write and telephone student-athletes or their parents during a dead period.
What is the difference between an official visit and an unofficial visit?
Any visit to a college campus by a college-bound student-athlete or his or her parents paid for by the college is an official visit. Visits paid for by college-bound student-athletes or their parents are unofficial visits.
During an official visit the college can pay for transportation to and from the college for the prospect, lodging and three meals per day for both the prospect and the parent or guardian, as well as reasonable entertainment expenses including three tickets to a home sports event.
The only expenses a college-bound student-athlete may receive from a college during an unofficial visit are three tickets to a home sports event.
What is an Unofficial visit?Student athletes can visit a coach on that coaches campus at anytime, as long as they pay their own way. These types of visits are called unofficial visits and have become a big part of the recruiting process.
What is an Official visit?During your senior year the NCAA allows any academic institution to pay for you to attend campus on a 48-hour Official Visit. Included in the visit is transportation (airfare or mileage reimbursement) to and from campus, lodging (either on campusor in a hotel), meals, and tickets to sporting events on campus.
What is a National Letter of Intent?A National Letter of Intent is signed by a college-bound student-athlete when the student-athlete agrees to attend a Division I or II college or university for one academic year. Participating institutions agree to provide financial aid for one academic year to the student-athlete as long as the student-athlete is admitted to the school and is eligible for financial aid under NCAA rules. Other forms of financial aid do not guarantee the student-athlete financial aid.
The National Letter of Intent is voluntary and not required for a student-athlete to receive financial aid or participate in sports.
Signing an National Letter of Intent ends the recruiting process since participating schools are prohibited from recruiting student-athletes who have already signed letters with other participating schools.
A student-athlete who has signed a National Letter of Intent may request a release from his or her contract with the school. If a student-athlete signs a National Letter of Intent with one school but attends a different school, he or she will lose one full year of eligibility and must complete a full academic year at their new school before being eligible to compete.
What are recruiting calendars?Recruiting calendars help promote the well-being prospective student-athletes and coaches and ensure competitive equity by defining certain time periods in which recruiting may or may not occur in a particular sport.
NCAA Division I Softball Recruiting CalendarAugust 1, 2016, through July 31, 2017
Important dates to remember:
- January 2 through July 31, 2017: Contact Period
- April 10-13, 2017: Dead Period
- May 30 through June 8 (noon), 2017:** Dead Period
The Paradox of Early Recruiting